Scallops have not always been a favorite of mine.  In fact, for a long time I thought I hated them.  That was due primarily to a dish my mom used to make where she routinely overcooked the scallops so much that I felt like I was gnawing on little balls of rubber.  My mom was a great cook but apparently that meal was not one of her best because, man, the memories of those scallops are vivid.  I have since learned to appreciate how truly wonderful scallops can be when they are fresh and cooked properly.  The best preparations are very simplistic allowing the flavor of the scallop to shine and are cooked just right so that they practically melt in your mouth when you eat them.  This version, my friends, is scallops done right.

I have been so, so excited to share this dish with you.  This meal was knock-your-socks-off good.  So good that the whole time I was eating it, I felt a degree of disbelief that it had come from my own kitchen instead of a fancy restaurant.  The scallops are dipped in sugar and sautéed in clarified butter, literally creating a caramel coating on the outside.  The sweet caramel flavor is subtle and with the white wine pan sauce, it is a wonderful compliment to the scallops.  This is a recipe I’ll be glad to have in my pocket when I’m looking for a special occasion meal or a dish to impress.

  • Yield 3-4 servings


12 large sea scallops
Pinch of kosher salt
Freshly ground black pepper
4 tablespoons clarified butter
½ cup white sugar, spread on a flat plate
½ cup dry white wine
Juice of one lemon, freshly squeezed
1 tbsp. finely chopped flat parsley
8 chives
1 tbsp. lemon zest


  • 01

    Rinse and dry the scallops well.  Season both sides of the scallops with salt and pepper.

  • 02

    Heat a skillet on medium-high for 2 minutes.  Add the clarified butter and swirl to coat the pan.  When the butter begins to foam, prepare the scallops quickly.  Working efficiently, coat one side of each scallop in sugar, grasping the sides and using a gentle twisting motion to help the sugar adhere.  Place the scallops sugar side down in the skillet and sauté for 2½ minutes.  If the sugar starts to brown too quickly, reduce the heat.  Flip the scallops over and cook for 1 minute more.

  • 03

    Add the white wine and lemon juice to the pan and reduce by half, about 1½ minutes.  Transfer the scallops to a platter or serving dishes.  Pour the pan juices over the top and garnish with chopped parsley, chives and lemon zest.  Serve immediately.